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  • Four 2016 Olympic Bids Make "Super League" in ATR Power Index


    Chicago Has the Edge in 2016 Olympics Campaign

    U.S. candidate Chicago takes the early lead in the ATR Olympic Bid Power Index. It is the only ranking of cities bidding for the Olympics produced outside the IOC that is based on expert analysis and first-hand contact with the bid cities.


    Chicago scores 79 on the 110 point index, which covers 11 categories. Some are subjective, some are based on hard numbers provided by the bid cities or gathered by ATR. First-hand experience is also a key to Power Index rankings. So far, ATR experts have visited all 2016 cities with the exception of Baku, Azerbaijan.

    The results of the first ATR Olympic Bid Power Index indicate that a “Super League” of four cities -- Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo -- likely will define the race.

    Chicago has the narrow lead based on a strong existing infrastructure, a city-centered venue plan and a juggernaut marketing program. That said, the main rivals to Chicago also have the goods to deliver great Games. Tokyo and Madrid present extraordinary experience and infrastructure.

    Rio de Janeiro will be a bid to watch as it campaigns for the first Olympics in South America. Doha is on the cusp of being a serious contender, because it also presents the IOC with a first: the chance to bring the Games to an Arab nation.

    Prague and Baku do not appear to have what it takes to be considered seriously for 2016. Prague has major infrastructure challenges. The same is true for Baku, which is weak in experience hosting international sports events.

    This initial Power Index will be followed in the coming months by additional analysis and updating across the categories in which the cities are evaluated. More details are needed from some of the cities; visits by ATR staff will be carried out, while developments with each of the bids could produce changes in their rankings.

    This field of seven cities for 2016 won’t last long. The IOC Executive Board will winnow the field to a list of finalists in June, number not certain.

    The rankings are not meant to predict the outcome of the IOC vote on October 2, 2009, but do show the relative strengths and weaknesses of the cities. The most recent ATR Power Index, calculated for the 2014 Winter Olympics decided last year showed the top two contenders, Sochi and PyeongChang, tied going into the IOC vote, narrowly won by Sochi.

    Here are the results of the initial ATR Olympic Bid Power Index for the 2016 Olympics, followed by category by category explanations.
    Accommodation: Quantity, quality and value for money.

    With the IOC looking for upwards of 30,000 rooms in the 2016 host city -- as many of them as possible within 10km of the Olympic Village -- Chicago leads with more than 90,000 close-in rooms. Tokyo has 76,000 and Madrid has 38,000 rooms in the 10km radius.

    Rio de Janeiro, despite its worldwide reputation as a tourist destination, counts just 2800 rooms within 10km of the Olympic Park western Rio de Janeiro and another 17,000 within 50km.
    O’Hare Airport at Chicago is one element in the city’s strengths as an applicant city for 2016. (ORD)  

    Prague offers 12,100 rooms in the radius. Doha has 5,500 rooms and more than 11,000 serviced apartments. Baku says it will have 11,000 hotel rooms by 2016, barely a third the number needed for the Olympics.

    Chicago and Tokyo will house media in hotels while Madrid and Rio de Janeiro will use a combination of hotels and media villages, while Baku, Doha and Prague will use media villages, which are not the preferred option for most press. Baku also proposes 8,000 rooms for Olympic Family and spectators in housing projects meant for family dwellings after the Games.

    Ambiance: Is the city comfortable, tourist-friendly, a pleasure to visit?

    Chicago is the leader of the group for hotels, restaurants and other amenities, all set in a vibrant city center on Lake Michigan.

    For natural beauty, none of the cities can match the dramatic landscape of Rio de Janeiro or the easy-going Carioca lifestyle. And while the city's grinding poverty is legendary, the Games could be at their most scenic in Brazil.

    Tokyo also is renowned as a tourist destination with highest quality services and attractions for guests.

    Madrid is an exciting and sophisticated destination with excellent tourism infrastructure.

    Doha offers a beautiful shoreline along the Persian Gulf but not much more for touristic pursuits.

    Prague may not have the scale of services offered by the larger competitors, but it could win the nod for charm. Its Old City is one of the gems of the world.
    Rio de Janeiro has increased its chances for a successful 2016 bid with the staging of the 2007 Pan American Games. (ATR)  

    Baku is located on the Caspian Sea, a plus. But for years the claim to fame for Azerbaijan has been the oil and gas fields that are the country’s prime natural resource. Athletes and officials who attended the wrestling world championships last year have given the city mixed reviews as a place to visit.

    Bid Operation: Leadership, strategy and public relations.

    Chicago, Doha, Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro have launched their bids on firm footings with clear statements of support from relevant governments. Strong leaders are in place for each of these bids and these four have also established communication teams to deliver their message. Prague is a city-led bid which does not appear to have garnered unequivocal support from government and the public. Baku is bidding with the backing of the national government.

    A possible risk for Doha is the proposal to schedule the Games in the last two weeks of October to avoid summer heat. Some broadcasters may not care for the timing, which could drive down rights fees. Athletes will have to adjust their schedules, while NBA basketball players may not be available because their season starts at the same time as the Games.
    Tokyo will develop this site along Tokyo Bay for an Olympic Stadium. (ATR)  

    Games Cost and Finance: The bill for operating the Olympics and the infrastructure needed, unusual finance risks. Higher scores indicate lower costs.

    Prague will spend the most on infrastructure in the lead up to a 2016 Olympics, more than $27 billion on various transport projects. Another $1.5 billion is planned for venues.

    Doha and Tokyo come in next with have the largest budgets for venues and infrastructure, in the neighborhood of $10 billion. For both cities, most of the money goes into transportation projects. For Tokyo, $2.1 billion is planned for venues, half of that for an Olympic Stadium.

    Rio de Janeiro lists $2.4 billion in transport spending ahead of 2016, a figure that does not include airport upgrades. The budget of $507 million for venues is lowest of the 2016 field.

    Chicago will spend about $800 million on venues, while $2.7 billion of transport projects are planned, regardless of the Olympics.

    Madrid infrastructure is billed at $8.6 billion, with just $24 million labeled for Olympic-specific projects. $1.4 billion is planned for Olympic venues.

    Baku plans $4 billion in infrastructure development between now and 2016 to improve transportation, from streets, to metro and airport. Another $1 billion is planned to construct venues.

    Last Games in the Country: Years since last summer or winter Olympics. Higher the score, the longer the games. Some credit could be given for recent Olympic bids.
    Madrid has the experience of bidding for the 2012 Olympics as well as host of major international sports events. (Getty Images)  

    Baku, Doha, Prague and Rio de Janeiro have never hosted the Games, which gives them the highest scores in this category. Chicago and Madrid have middling scores, as both the U.S. and Spain are past Olympic hosts. Tokyo is aiming to host its second Games.

    Legacy: Impact of the Olympics in a city; sustainable venues.

    Clearly for both Baku and Prague, the development of new venues for the Olympics would leave a decided legacy, as neither has the facilities enjoyed by their rivals. Baku hopes to transform oil fields into a new Olympic Park with a nearby Olympic Village which would provide much needed housing for Azeri citizens.

    Rio de Janeiro plans a new Olympic Park that could become a training center for elite athletes across South America.

    Chicago plans some new venues, such as an aquatic center, that would deliver legacy.  It is also planning an Olympic Stadium that would shrink to a fraction of its size after the Games as a legacy for a city neighborhood.

    Doha -- with many venues in place from the 2006 Asian Games -- plans to use the Games to build up its transport infrastructure.

    Madrid will develop new venues under its plan for the Games and reclaim abandoned areas of Madrid for parks and housing.

    Tokyo would deliver new venues for the 21st century at the same time it employs a number of iconic venues from the 1964 Games. But a $300 million rowing course planned for the venue cluster on the shore of Tokyo Bay may raise eyebrows.

    Marketing: The size and impact of marketing programs.

    Chicago, with $2.5 billion forecast for marketing revenue, is the leader among the 2016 cities. Tokyo and Madrid are in the $1.6 billion range, while Rio and Doha propose figures about half that amount. Prague forecasts $960 million, Baku $960 million.
    Doha has constructed many of the venues needed for the Olympics as part of preparations for the successful 2006 Asian Games. (Getty Images)  

    Rio de Janeiro will be pressed to prove that the hosting of the 2014 World Cup by Brazil won’t cut into the revenue or attention the IOC expects the Games to receive. That Rio de Janeiro’s $750 million marketing revenue estimate is $200 million less than projections from Prague and Baku is difficult to explain.

    Public Support: Ranking based on dossier information.

    Prague appears to the laggard, with 50 percent support among Czech citizens. Baku is at the top, with 92% of the people it polled saying they support the Olympics. Doha and Madrid follow with 86 percent support, Rio next with 78 percent, Chicago at 76 percent and Tokyo with 60 percent public support.

    Security: Reputation and quality of security, perceptions of risk.

    Rio de Janeiro is the one city among the 2016 list that carries a reputation for security issues due to gang violence and street crime.  Even so, the 2007 Pan American Games were problem-free.

    Chicago has its own history of gang violence, 80 years ago when Al Capone and other gangsters cut a swathe through the city, but 21st Chicago is a safe place to visit. As a U.S. city, the threat of terrorism attack is a possibility, however.
    Prague and its Old City may be the most charming of the seven cities in the 2016 race. (Getty Images)  

    The same threat hangs over Madrid, which also faces ongoing issues with Basque separatists ETA.

    Doha is a calm place, but its geographic position in the Mideast would raise concerns by some travelers. Security resources of Qatar may need to be increased.

    Tokyo has a low level of street crime and not so many worries about terror attack.

    Prague is not known as a dangerous place but resources needed for the Olympics could be stretched for a small country.

    Whether Azerbaijan also has the resources to deliver the kind of security the Games in Baku demand would be a question. The dossier says a force of 80,000 is available to secure the Games. A separatist movement in Nogorno-Karabakh has closed off a portion of Azerbaijan to normal travel.

    Transportation: Ease of travel, multiple transport options, airports, quality of public transit, taxis.

    Chicago seems to be best prepared today across the multiple factors in this category but is not perfect, either.

    Tokyo and Madrid have extraordinary public transit systems and strong airports.

    Rio de Janeiro will need improvements to its airport and surface street transit to be a good host.

    Traffic can be a surprising hassle for tiny Doha, which has aspirations for a multi-billion dollar transit line helping to handle Olympic crowds.

    Prague needs surface street and mass transit expansions while Baku has a Soviet-era metro with a few blots on its safety record. Air travel to Baku may take multiple stops, with just a handful of airports in Europe offering direct flights.

    Venues and Overall Plan: The number of venues to build, Olympic Village, compactness.

    Five of the cities enter the race for 2016 with impressive venue credentials, helping to keep construction to a minimum: Chicago, Doha, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. Each still needs a number of new ones to host the Games.

    Olympic Stadiums are needed for Baku, Chicago, Madrid, Prague and Tokyo.

    Baku will need major investment to host the Olympics.  
    Tokyo would seem to be the most compact plan, with all venues said to be within 8km of the village. But this center of the Games is about 10km from the main parts of Tokyo and all the attractions the city offers.

    Likewise for Madrid, Doha, Rio de Janeiro, all of which place the Olympic Village in suburban areas.

    Chicago plans an Olympic Village in the center of the city, with most of its venues also set in the center of town and just a handful in the suburbs.

    Baku plans to build its Olympic Park and village near the city center along the Caspian Sea, but with $1 billion budgeted for 26 venues, including all the major sports, the figure could be low.

    Written by Ed Hula

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